What Does Administering a Trust Involve?
Part of estate planning requires you to decide if you want a will, a trust, or both. Some people choose to have a will for specific items and a trust for others. There are benefits of having a trust in place beside or in addition to a will. To help you learn more about administering a trust and what is involved in a trust administration, it is important to know the basics about trusts.
What Is a Trust?
A trust is a legal document that describes various properties, bank accounts, investments, and other such assets owned by a person. This person is called the Settlor when creating a trust. The Settlor designates what property and assets will be included in the trust and transferred to the trust administrator or Trustee.
The job of the Trustee is to administer the trust according to the instructions of the Settlor. The Trustee has specific requirements like ensuring they protect the property and assets of the Settlor until such time they are to be distributed after their death.
Are There Different Types of Trusts?
Two general types of trusts exist in New York. A person can have a testamentary trust or a living trust. With a testamentary trust, the trust does not become active until the Settlor dies. With a living trust, the trust becomes active while they are still alive, once it is executed correctly. Administrating a trust also begins while the person is still alive when they create a living trust.
In addition, there are two different types of living trusts: Irrevocable and Revocable. An irrevocable living trust is where the trust cannot be changed, amended, terminated, or modified without permission from the named beneficiary. Furthermore, any assets listed in an irrevocable trust are transferred out of the estate.
A revocable trust, on the other hand, retains the assets as part of the Settlor’s estate. This allows the Settlor the option to modify, change, terminate, or amend the trust anytime they desire. While the Settlor is alive, any income or other financial gains continue to be distributed to the Settlor as stipulated in the revocable trust. It is only after their death that the assets and money are distributed to the named beneficiaries.
How Does a Trustee Perform Trust Administration?
A Trustee can have several assigned responsibilities and duties to carry out for the Settlor long before they pass away. One of the most common reasons for family disputes and legal issues is because of improper trust administration by a Trustee.
Administering a trust requires more than just attempting to honor the wishes of the Settlor. A Trustee must also be prepared for:
• Asset Management and Protection
• Investing Trust Resources as Directed
• Trust Investment Management
• Managing Trust Distributions
• Maintaining Accurate Trust Records
• Adhering to the Terms of the Trust
• Maintaining Communications with the Settlor
• Maintaining Communications with Beneficiaries After the Settlor’s Death
• Handling Conflicts Between Beneficiaries
• Knowing When a Trust Has to Go Through the New York Probate Process
• Filing and Paying Any Required Taxes
Trust administration requires selecting the right Trustee. This is why most people retain the services of a New York probate attorney to act as their Trustee rather than a close family friend or relative.
By retaining an attorney for administering a trust, they remain objective and can help alleviate any family disputes or other issues that could arise after your death. Additionally, they can offer sound legal estate, will planning, and trust administration advice to ensure your assets and property are protected and distributed according to your intentions.
For further information about trusts and assistance in creating one, please feel free to contact Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C. at 718-276-6656 today!
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